Merkel to Visit Israel at Netanyahu's Invitation
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Israel at the end of February at the invitation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, for annual talks between the two governments, a statement quoted by AFP said Thursday.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the two leaders had a phone conversation Thursday in which Netanyahu "invited the German government for talks at the end of February which must take place in Israel this year."
He also wished Merkel a speedy recovery after she recently fractured her pelvis in a ski accident ,and congratulated the German leader on her election for a third term, Seibert said, according to AFP.
The inter-governmental talks will be the first for Merkel's new team, a coalition between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).
During the Israeli delegation’s visit to Berlin in December of 2012, Merkel and Netanyahu “agreed to disagree” over Israeli construction in areas the Palestinian Authority (PA) claims for a future state.
Thursday’s announcement confirms a recent Israeli report which said that both Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron were planning separate visits to Israel next month as part of an international push for Israel to sign a peace agreement with the PA.
In October, Merkel met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin and urged Israel to show "restraint" in the building of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
At the time, she also reiterated Germany's support for the peace talks and a two-state solution.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama phoned Merkel to wish her a rapid recovery and invite her to Washington in the coming months, which she accepted.